Loans with collateral are referred to as “secured debt,” and loans without as “unsecured debt.”
Nearly three-quarters of college students borrow funds to pay for school these days and, as we know, it is not always easy — or possible — to pay those loans back. Well, it turns out one thing you might be able to do to help yourself succeed is move. Specifically, move west.
According to schools.com, four of the top five states for student loan repayment are on the Pacific side of things: Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and Nevada. (The fifth is Virginia so the Atlantic gets a brief nod.) California and Colorado also place in the top 10. But stop short of Cali: San Francisco is a luxury ghost town these days. (“On average, 39 percent of condos built since 2000 have absentee owners, and for newer buildings like One Rincon Hill, that number is 50 percent or above.”) Also there’s no water.
Why is the West such fertile ground for loan repayment? Low unemployment rates, low cost-of-living, and high incomes boost Utah and Wyoming. Washington State, Wyoming, and Nevada make things easier on residents by not charging income tax. Wait, what?
FYI, there are only seven states that don’t charge income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. I can understand the small and the oil-rich not needing to profit off individuals but how on earth do huge states with significant populations of poors and olds like Texas and Florida get away with that? Texas makes up the difference via property taxes, “some of the highest in the nation.” New Jersey and New Hampshire are also expensive places to own property. And Florida … is there anything good to say about Florida?
Jake Halpern at the Times spent the day at a debt collection agency, even going so far as to jump on the phone — at the agency’s insistence — and hound people with outstanding debts.
It’s time to check in on our debt payments and savings goals again. If you’re joining us for the first time, you can read about our decision to publicly keep track of our debt here.
Jake Halpern’s noir-ish story in the NYT Magazine about debt collection is scarier than Sin City. Poor Theresa! (We are all Theresa.)
there was little that Theresa could do; she had paid off her debt to the wrong collectors and had fallen into the debt underworld. If anyone was going to help her, it wouldn’t be the state attorney general, or the Better Business Bureau, or the F.T.C., or even the police, but the former banker and the former armed-robber who bought her debt.
The most valuable takeaway from the piece, as underlined by an interview Halpern gives Ira Glass on “This American Life,” though, is that a few magic words can make the whole nightmare go away.
Jake Halpern: [The lawyer] said, oh, well, when a consumer actually shows up in court and says the magic words, then these cases basically evaporate. And I say, the magic words? He says, yeah. Show me the evidence.
Ira Glass: Show me the evidence. In other words, show me where you got this number, $3,762.20. The Georgia Legal Services lawyer told Jake that if you’re standing before a judge and you say, OK, I don’t recognize this amount that you say I owe, and I want to see some documentation, I want to see account statements or whatever, because I have no way to know with certainty that this debt is really mine, the judge will usually turn to the other side and ask for the evidence. And in all likelihood, they’ll have no documentation and they’ll drop the case. And this is true not just in Georgia, but elsewhere. Because the way this business works, Jake says, when credit card companies sell these IOUs to debt collection companies, they usually don’t give them any documentation. Usually they just give them a spreadsheet with a long list of people who owe money on their credit cards and their addresses and the last payment and how much they owe, and not a whole lot more than that.
Amazing!! You have the right to remain silent, America, or to use the magic words that will set you free. Think you’ve got it down? Test your skills by playing the game!
I usually enjoy reading the money makeover column in the Los Angeles Times, which runs every two months or so (and, coincidentally, was once written by Helaine Olen in the ’90s). The latest installment focuses on Ross and Michelle Meador, a couple who lives in Fullertorn with their three children and have $1.4 million in assets including a house in Berkeley that they rent out, but a million dollars in debt, including student loans, a mortgage, a HELOC (home equity line of credit—basically borrowing against your house), and mortgage debt.